Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fix school funding -Schrag

Fixing funding for schools -- and colleges, and all the rest
By Peter Schrag
CSBA, the California School Boards Association, and other major education groups have been talking for years about suing the state to bring California’s dismally low school funding up to something approaching adequate levels.
[This is an important opinion piece by Peter Schrag. You can read the entire piece by clicking on the title above.]
Six years ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, much to his credit, settled the Williams v. California, a suit demanding that the state provide the materials, decent facilities and competent teachers – or indeed any regular teachers – that tens of thousands of poor and minority California school children weren’t getting.

But the settlement, which promised a book for every student, better facilities and the eventual end of truncated, broken-up school calendars and fractured school years, covered only part of the inequities.
The issue of bringing better teachers into schools serving disadvantaged students was left to the meaningless definitions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Under it, any person making “satisfactory progress toward full certification as prescribed by the State” is regarded as “highly qualified.”
…Given the damage inflicted by budget cuts both to the formal institutions of education and to major ancillary programs in health and children’s services both the suit and the protests are hardly surprising and, where they’re directed at voters and their representatives in Sacramento, long overdue.
The planners at CSBA understand that, as their draft memo puts it, “successful litigation by itself will not resolve the problem, and that a political solution is necessary as well.” The organization thus plans to follow up its suit with a public relations campaign “that utilizes the litigation to highlight problems and potential solutions to California’s school funding system.”
But that, too, would be better conducted beyond the silo of the K-12 system. The parts – higher education, the public schools, pre-school, health, child care, parents counseling – are all inseparably linked, both in their costs and their benefits.
Right now Sacramento robs one to “protect” another, even as the voters are still clutching the illusion that it can all be done without more revenues and as the campus demonstrators still think that everything could be fixed if only administrators got paid less. It just ain’t so.
Read the  entire article on the California Progress Report:

Peter Schrag, whose exclusive weekly column appears every Monday in the California Progress Report, is the former editorial page editor and columnist of the Sacramento Bee. He is the author of Paradise Lost: California’s Experience, America’s Future and California: America’s High Stakes Experiment. His new book, Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America will be published in 2010.

One way to fix the funding is through the elimination of the 2/3 rule for budget and revenue.
See the California Democracy Act post on this page.

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